It’s a New Year, and the “Polar Vortex” is upon us all.  Really.  The entire country is submerged in Arctic air.  It’s warmer in Antarctica than in Minnesota.  It’s an upside-down world.

Relationships, too, move from hot to cold, sometimes in a matter of moments.  Communication fails, emotion erupts, we feel bruised and wounded and vulnerable.  Then something shifts, and we open the tiniest of doorways into our hearts. The warmth oozes in and we lean toward it.

I’ve been noticing the sweep of cold air in the room lately, the draft that blows through as people turn away from one another and freeze up, and have been feeling challenged by that frostiness to find the words and gestures that might soften and ease the tensions.  I am sometimes awed by how easily people allow their relationship to be blanketed in coldness; then again, that is an all too familiar experience, knowing it as I do from my own childhood.  The deep freeze of love shutdown by one person’s perception of being ill-considered or unappreciated, the tiptoeing on ice crystals in fear of something breaking, the desperate longing for warm acceptance….I get how the polar vortex flash-freezes all movement into what seems like an interminable waiting, waiting for the warmth to return.

The best protection seems to be to hunker down, to layer up, and to light fires. Acknowledge the frosty air and seek ways to warm up. Especially in the separating and disengaging shifts of relationships, it’s vital to keep the polar vortex from sucking the living warmth out of every interaction and communication. Remembering the frailty and humanity of how we interact with one another, remembering that no one likes to be left out in the cold for long.